1917 Oil tree
According to Countryaah data, until oil extraction began in Venezuela in 1917, the country was poorly developed. Like the other Latin American republics, it was controlled by a landowner and export nationality. Coffee and cocoa dominated the poor exports that existed and there were relatively few foreign investments.
But oil extraction quickly turned down the entire country’s economy, and as early as 1929 it was the world’s largest oil exporter and accounted for 10% of world production. Since then, the oil business has completely dominated the economy and 95% of export revenue continues to come from there. The bourgeoisie under the leadership of the notorious dictator Juan Vicente Gómez (1908-35) gave the British-Dutch and North American oil companies complete freedom of play, and all oil production was under their control from the start. Oil production was already concentrated around Maracaibo at this time.
After his death, Gómez was followed in the presidential post by his right-hand man, General Eleazar López Contreras, and in 1941 by General Isaías Medina Angarita. Under the two generals, the emerging industrial and petty bourgeoisie – especially the intellectuals – began to demand political liberalization and some state control of the economy. Not least, they demanded increased taxation on the oil companies. At the same time, the working class began to organize itself. In the beginning, this happened illegally under the leadership of the Communist Party. Later, the nationalist and anti-communist party Accion Democrática (Democratic Action, AD) succeeded in securing complete control of the peasant and trade union movement through a large-scale mobilization campaign with promises of land reform and a social equalization policy. It was made possible when General Medina in the beginning of ’40 the parties approved the lot. It has since retained this control over the central popular movements.
1945-48 Reforms and military coup
In 1945, AD came to power by a coup led by disgruntled officers, and it was at the head of a civil-military regime that was undertaking significant reforms. It was stated by the President of AD, Rómulo Betancourt and General Marcos Pérez Jiménez. In 47, the government printed the country’s first free direct election. It was won by AD and its presidential candidate, author Rómulo Gallegos could take the post, but as early as 1948 it was overthrown by a new military coup. In the ten-year period of military dictatorship that followed – most of the time with Pérez Jiménez as dictator – social reform policy was completely abandoned and foreign oil monopolies were again given free rein.
It was high expectations for civilian rule that took power after Pérez Jiménez ‘was overthrown by a public uprising in 1958, and especially for AD who, at the election that year, became by far the largest party. The president of the first stage of civil rule, Romulo Betancourt, became president again. But the left was quickly disappointed by the line of compromise the party followed in relation to national citizenship and foreign capital. In 1960, the civil government embarked on land reform, which has since been characterized as the world’s most expensive, but it did not lead to any significant redistribution of land ownership, as a similar reform in 1947 had done. The very uneven distribution of income in the country has remained largely constant since 1958.
In the early 1960’s, a number of guerrilla movements occurred in the country, and many believed that there would be a development similar to that which Cuba had undergone a few years earlier. But the guerrilla had little support from both workers and peasants. Despite a call by the guerrilla for the boycott of 1963, 90% of voters participated in the election.
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According to thesciencetutor, the economic in Venezuela development since 1958 has been characterized mainly by a violent migration from the country to the cities – not least because of the redevelopment of small farms and investment in capitalist economies of scale in agriculture. At the same time, the huge revenues from the oil business have led to the gradually building up of the industry based on technology that requires large capital investment and low labor. The result has been mass unemployment and the emergence of huge slums around the big cities – especially in the capital Caracas.